UGA Blueberry Team
Ash Sial (37 posts)
Dr. Ash Sial is an Assistant Professor in Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia. He has had extensive training in agricultural entomology from various institutions. He earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from Washington State University where he worked with apple growers to develop sustainable IPM programs for major pests of tree fruits. After graduation, he accepted a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist position at University of California, Berkeley and worked with winegrape growers to develop sustainable IPM programs aimed at managing exotic and emerging arthropod pests such as vine mealybug, and the diseases transmitted by mealybugs such as grapevine leafroll disease. He then joined Cornell University to investigate various aspects of biology and ecology of an invasive insect pest – spotted wing drosophila, which has recently emerged as a major threat to fruit production in the United States. Currently, he serves as the blueberry entomologist and IPM Coordinator for Georgia. At the University of Georgia, the goals of his research program are to investigate biology and ecology of major arthropod pests of blueberries in order to develop sustainable IPM programs, and disseminate that information to all stakeholders including commercial blueberry producers in a timely and convenient manner. He has published numerous peer-reviewed papers, delivered research and Extension presentations including invited guest lectures and a keynote address. He has also served professional societies including Entomological Society of America (ESA) in a leadership role at the regional and national levels. He has been recognized for excellence in research productivity and professional leadership at the regional and national level with several prestigious awards including the John Henry Comstock Award.
Renee (4 posts)
Renée Allen is the Area Blueberry Agent at the University of Georgia. She attended Clemson University for her undergraduate degree in Microbiology and worked as a researcher for the global microbiology organization at the Procter & Gamble Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio. She received a M. S. in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia where she studied blueberry diseases, particularly bacterial leaf scorch of blueberry. Renée serves as a resource for county agents and farmers on questions regarding blueberry production. These topics include disease and pest management, as well as, general horticultural and physiological questions about blueberries. She manages the blueberry research and demonstration farm in Alma, GA. She collaborates and coordinates with blueberry specialists and county agents to carry out multi-county research trials, host field days, and promote blueberry education through regional production meetings. Renée also helps with development of educational programming for blueberry at the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference in Savannah, GA.
Phil Brannen (20 posts)
Phil Brannen is a Professor in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management, where he also received an M.S. in Plant Pathology, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Auburn University. He has extensive experience with disease management programs in numerous cropping systems. He serves as the extension fruit pathologist for Georgia – conducting research and technology transfer for multiple fruit commodities. His blueberry efforts are directed towards developing IPM practices to solve disease issues and technology transfer of disease-management methods to commercial blueberry producers. He also teaches the graduate level Field Pathology Course, team-teaches the IPM Course, coordinates the Viticulture and Enology in the Mediterranean Region Course (Cortona, Italy), and guest lectures in numerous other courses throughout the year.
Joe is the Associate Director for the Southern IPM Center and the IPM and Forest Health Specialist at the Center for Invasive Species And Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia. His main focus is on development of systems to help deliver information to people to inform their pest management decisions and helping implement the technology that is already available.
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Jonathan Oliver (6 posts)
Dr. Jonathan Oliver is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia. He has a 75% research and 25% extension appointment. Dr. Oliver started in his current position at the University of Georgia in mid-2017 as an extension fruit pathologist at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia. His responsibilities include research and extension activities focused on pathogen biology and disease management in fruit crops grown primarily in the southern part of Georgia, including blueberries, blackberries, citrus, and other emerging fruit crops. Dr. Oliver obtained a BS degree in Plant Pathology and Microbiology & Cell Science from the University of Florida in 2005, and a PhD in Plant Microbe Biology from Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY in 2011. In addition, he has also been postdoctoral researcher at Kansas State University and Auburn University. At Auburn, he characterized the interactions between the emerging bacterial pathogen, Xylella fastidiosa, and its blueberry plant hosts. He currently serves as a Plant Pathology Section editor for the Southeast Regional Blueberry Integrated Management Guide.
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Erick Smith (6 posts)
Dr. Smith has an 80% extension and 20% research appointment in fruit production for southern Georgia. His responsibilities include providing leadership to the blueberry educational programs of southern Georgia. He assists county extension agents and commercial blueberry growers in production oriented material. His research interests are focused on plant nutrition, blueberry establishment, and production improvement. In blueberry and other commercial fruit crops, Dr. Smith is working to research and educate through collaborative efforts that include, but not exclusive to, leaders from the fields of plant pathology, entomology, physiology, and engineering to bring a rounded approach to problem solving.